Want to learn French fast? It all depends on what you actually mean by “learning French”. Fret not, for we can help you iron out your doubts!
Article last updated on November 7th, 2022
Before you start, bear in mind it’s never too late to reach fluency. However, getting there is a whole other story, as there are many things to take into account: age, first language, environment, motivation and time.
Although children under 18 tend to acquire a language much faster than adult learners, adults have a better understanding of the depth of a language: there is a notable difference between language acquisition (passive) and language learning (active).
As a native English speaker, it should be easier to start learning French, as English partly takes its roots from French. You will find the environment in which you study has a great impact on how you learn French. For instance, you will learn French differently depending on where you live, and if you chose to learn in a classroom or at home by yourself. But above all, learning a foreign language depends on each learner, as some may find it easier than others.
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All of these factors play an important role in how fast you will learn French, and they will inevitably shape the way you use the language as well – but how do you know when you have reached fluency?
What is fluency?
To answer this question, let’s break the process of language mastery down into different levels, as proposed by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), ranging from A1 to C2:
- Basic users (A1 – A2) or beginner: Can communicate and talk about themselves with simple words.
- Independent users (B1 – B2) or intermediate: Can understand abstract topics, express a viewpoint, use the language in a specialized field, with a certain degree of fluency.
- Proficient users (C1 – C2) or advanced: Can communicate fluently or very fluently and use the language for social, academic and professional purposes.
Up to you whether you want to be able to speak the language casually or in a professional environment, or if you want to go even further and master it. Needless to say that in order to move up the ladder, you will have to spend more time studying French.
How long does it take to become fluent in French?
In order to learn efficiently, you need to set yourself a clear goal ahead of time. There are different levels of fluency and even though you may want to, you may not necessarily need to speak perfect French in order to communicate with others. It is therefore important to have goals and stick to them.
It will take quite some time to become fluent. But how much time will it actually take?
For instance, environmental factors can have a strong influence on this process:
- Where: learning French online, at school, with a private tutor
- How: virtual learning courses, textbooks, video conferences, face-to-face interactions
- When: daily, weekly, monthly
- Who: with other students in a classroom, by yourself
- What: learning materials available, activities, resources
Your journey to fluency also depends on:
- Age: children under 18 tend to acquire languages whereas adults will actively learn.
- Gender: social acceptability of learning a specific language for different genders.
- Objectives/purpose: as a hobby, for work, at school…
- First language: assuming it’s English, which makes things a bit easier. French is considered to be “close” to English and therefore should be easier to learn for native English speakers.
- Other foreign languages: taking into account those who have already gone through the process of learning another language.
In essence, what you already know, what and how you want to learn, the time you can afford to spend learning, and your motivation have a direct impact on how fast you can learn French.
According to the Alliance Française, from learninghow to say hello in Frenchto reaching a B1 level requires 360 hours of training, whereas B2 would take about 560 hours of intensive courses (about 20 hours/week) – however, they are unable to determine the number of weeks needed to reach C1 or C2.
On the other hand, this paper written by Cambridge University Press shows that a motivated adult learner, with access to quality resources and experienced teachers, should be able to reach a B1 level in 350 to 490 hours, B2 in 530 to 750 hours, C1 in 730 to 1050 hours and C2 in 1030 to 1450 hours, on the basis of two-hour classes, plus two hours of homework per week (4 hours/week in total).
This might sound frightening, but you should ask yourself an even more important question: do you really need to reach full proficiency in order to achieve your goals? You could, for instance, learn how to speak conversational French much faster before speaking la langue française fluently.
Chances are you’re not starting from scratch either: perhaps you learned French earlier in your life, or you might actually know more than you think. It might be even easier if you already know some Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese or Romanian) as they are close to French.
If you’re having trouble assessing your level, you can test your French level for free.
Is French hard to learn?
It’s never easy to learn a new language, but French is considered an easy language to learn for native English speakers. This can be explained by the fact that there are many similarities between English and French.
The biggest challenges you might face would be French grammar and pronunciation.
In the case of grammar, there’s no secret, it has to come through studying as you can’t make up the grammar rules by yourself, and while it can get quite tedious and boring, there are ways to make it more fun. And naturally, it’ll only take a few months for you tolearn basic French vocabulary!
In the case of French pronunciation, it will take years of practice before you can reach the level of a native French speaker. Spoken French is a bit more difficult as there are many nasal sounds that don’t exist in the English language… and there are plenty of silent letters which can make reading hard.
You can learn more about how hard it is to learn French in our dedicated blog post!
How much time should you spend studying French?
The answer to this question would be: as much time as you can afford. The more you study, the more you will learn and memorize what you have learned. However, studying can get intense and the last thing you want is to face burnout.
Time management is essential: stick to a regular schedule and don’t forget to take regular breaks – forcing yourself to learn French to the point it becomes a pain won’t work!
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There is no secret method to mastering French in a week, but don’t worry, there are ways to help you speed up the process:
Our tips on how to learn French fast
Now that you know your journey to fluency might take some time – you obviously won’t learn French in a day – you’ll be pleased to know that you could learn French faster as long as you are motivated. While you can learn basic French fast, mastering the ins and out of the French language will take much more time and effort.
Boost your motivation
It’s much harder to do something when you’re lacking motivation. If you don’t find pleasure in learning French or if you don’t find it rewarding, it will take (much) more time.
Learning can, and should be fun! Ask yourself for what reasons you are learning French (work, school, friends, family…), and with this in mind, try kickstarting your studies with topics you find interesting.
Learning French doesn’t have to be boring, especially thanks to our online French lessons Frantastique: try our method for free today.
Love everything French (or at least one thing)
If you like French, you will find it easier to spend more time studying the language and using it outside of your usual class/lesson. Your own curiosity will drive you to find out more about the French language.
Think of what you (might) like about France and its culture, and try to find out more about it:
- French food: Read a recipe and start cooking.
- French TV series or French movies: Sit back and enjoy Le Bureau des Légendes or Dix pour Cent.
- History: You can relive historical events in the comfort of your own home and, should the opportunity arise, in a French museum. Or with a time machine (recommended).
- French books: Start reading in French with books for beginners before moving on to more difficult reads.
- Wine: Read more about the richness of French terroirs with a nice glass of Chardonnay.
Practice, practice and more practice
“Practice makes perfect.” While many French people will find your accent charming, you might want to develop a more authentic accent to improve your pronunciation – and there’s no better way to strengthen your oral skills than communicating and interacting with native speakers. Another way of improving your French listening skills is by listening to music and podcasts, or watching movies and series.
It’s even easier when it comes to reading and writing, as there are countless ways for you to brush up on your French on the Internet: newspapers, books, recipes, forums, online chats… the options are endless.
Living in a French-speaking country
Even though achieving total immersion might be tough, if you travel to a French-speaking country, you will have little choice but to speak the local language – it won’t take you long to learn French, but it will be more intense!
Using the language on a daily basis will help you become much more confident, although you may soon discover that you speak much better than you write or read!
Immersion will help you improve by leaps and bounds, and at a much faster rate than simply studying for hours on end in a classroom in your home country.
You could also take a step further by combining immersion (acquisition) and studying. We recommend you attend language classes where you live – or you could try learning French online.
Start learning French with Frantastique
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Our goal: your motivation, participation and progress.
How does it work?
- Each day you’ll receive a lesson adapted to your needs, capabilities and goals.
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French is a Category I language, so it's relatively easy to learn for native English speakers. It will take approximately 580 hours or 23 weeks of study to reach complete French fluency.How many hours is A2 French? ›
|Level||Can be reached through ... hours of study||Total of study hours|
|A1||80 to 100 h||80 to 100 h|
|A2||+ 100 to 120 h||180 to 200 h|
|B1||+ 150 to 180 h||350 to 400 h|
According to the Alliance Française, it takes between 560 and 650 hours of lessons to reach a B2 level in French.How many hours should I study for B1 French? ›
According to the Alliance Française, from learning how to say hello in French to reaching a B1 level requires 360 hours of training, whereas B2 would take about 560 hours of intensive courses (about 20 hours/week) – however, they are unable to determine the number of weeks needed to reach C1 or C2.What is B1 level French? ›
Level B1, which is sometimes referred to as 'Threshold' or 'Breakthrough' stage, is the point at which a French speaker moves away from the most simplistic language usage and is able to cope with most of the situations they are likely to encounter when travelling around a French-speaking country.Can I become fluent in French in 4 years? ›
Depending on your goals, native language, study method and time, and motivation, within 6 months to 3 years you should be able to speak French at a good level. It will take longer if you're following a secondary school curriculum or want to totally master French for a career in something like interpreting.Is A2 considered fluent? ›
They're not totally fluent, but it's not a huge struggle to understand what they're getting at or generally communicate with them. Reaching B1 from A2 takes about 200 hours, so you're looking at roughly 450 hours of work from scratch. At one hour per day, this is about 18 months of work total.Is A2 French fluent? ›
A2 or Elementary: At the A2 CEFR level, a language learner can: Understand commonly used terms in most central areas like shopping, employment, family, and geography, etc. Can do tasks which are routine and involve a direct swap of information.Is A2 level fluent? ›
At A2 proficiency—or “Elementary” level—you can take part in everyday small talk and express your opinion, but still in very simple ways, and only on familiar topics.Does B-2 count as fluent? ›
Level B2 corresponds to independent users of the language, i.e. those who have the necessary fluency to communicate without effort with native speakers.
From A0 to B2 in a year
A bit over a year ago, I was a completely monolingual English speaker with zero experience with the French language. Twelve months later, I very comfortably passed the internationally recognized DELF B2 exam.
English test B2 (Upper-Intermediate)
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialisation.
Level B1 corresponds to independent users of the language, i.e. those who have the necessary fluency to communicate without effort with native speakers.Can I get B2 French in 6 months? ›
B2 isn't possible without massive input AND output for 6 months. We're talking 4+ hours per day of efficient, focussed study. For me personally I think I would like to be able to be comfortable in the language and being able to express myself some what freely and not have to really focus when speaking.Can I learn French B1 in 6 months? ›
If you know the 1,000 most frequent words in a language, you can understand 80% of that language! That's more than enough to be conversational in French. And you can learn 1,000 French words in a six-month period by learning just six words a day.
Level A2 Coping with everyday situations: 135 hours/9 weeks. Level B1 Managing everyday situations: 135 hours/9 weeks. Level B2 Be independent in daily and professional life: 180 hours/12 weeks.What is A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2? ›
Explanation of language levels A1 to C2. The three broad levels are A1/A2 ("Basic User"), B1/B2 ("Independent User"), and C1/C2 ("Proficient User"). Let's take a look at what you should be able to communicate at the various levels set out by CERF. Language learning levels explained from A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 to C2.How difficult is C1 French? ›
On the CEFR, French C1 means you can understand longer and challenging texts, speak fluently without searching for words and expressions, and understand implicit meanings.How many hours a day should I study French? ›
For most people, around 30 minutes of active study and 1 hour of language exposure a day is a schedule that will give you great results. It's a model that's sustainable over a long period to help you reach fluency.What is the fastest way to learn French? ›
- Watch films. Watching films in French with French subtitles is one of the best ways to learn. ...
- Learn with songs. ...
- Read. ...
- Find a partner. ...
- Don't be scared to try and make mistakes. ...
- Listen! ...
- Practice. ...
- Sign up for an intensive course.
Well, the good news is that experts say you are never too old. Studies show that anyone at any age can learn a new language. In fact, it is even easier to start speaking in a foreign language now with all the advanced technology available on the market.Is C2 native level? ›
A C2 level of English is essentially a native level. It allows for reading and writing of any type on any subject, nuanced expression of emotions and opinions, and active participation in any academic or professional setting.What level of French is considered fluent? ›
Perhaps the best general reference point is the European Common Framework of Reference which divides proficiency into six levels from A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. In my view, B2 is the level where you are fluent.What level is a fluent speaker? ›
Fluent. Like a native speaker, a fluent speaker of a language is very comfortable with the language — however, it is not necessarily their first, native, or mother tongue. Although it's difficult to achieve, fluency can be attained through extended study and, usually, with time spent living in full linguistic immersion ...Is B2 a good level of French? ›
Level B2 corresponds to a more advanced, more independent level than previous levels. A B2 user can communicate easily and spontaneously in a clear and detailed manner. This is not yet an experienced speaker, but a B2 user is able to understand and be understood in most situations.Is B1 or B2 higher French? ›
|Master or Proficient||C2|
A2 - niveau usuel (elementary)
A2 level is the second stage of the CEFR 'basic [language] user' category. This level will allow the student to continue working on sentence building as well as new grammar points. Past tenses such as the passé composé will be introduced.
SKILLS AT LEVEL C1
He/she can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for the right expression. He/she can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
Our Verdict. The LG B2 OLED is better overall than the LG A2 OLED.Is B1 or B2 fluent? ›
|Anglo-Link rank||CEFR*||TOEFL iBT|
|Elementary||A2||20 - 31|
|Intermediate||B1||32 - 45|
|Advanced||B2||46 – 93|
|Fluent||C1||94 – 114|
At Duolingo, we're developing our courses to get you to a level called B2, at which you can get a job in the language you're studying. Reaching that kind of proficiency requires dedication, varied practice opportunities, and a lot of time.Is C1 advanced or fluent? ›
C1 English (Advanced)
Level C1 corresponds to users who can express themselves fluently and spontaneously. They can use language flexibly and effectively for all purposes.
Linguists rarely agree on a single definition of second language fluency. But at ICLS, we offer a common-sense definition: a speaker achieves language fluency once they can confidently, competently, and easily express themselves in a language other than their own.Can I master French in 3 months? ›
Lewis is the author of the new book "Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World." The title pretty much says it all. He believes — strongly — that with the correct approach and enough practice, anyone can master a foreign language in as little as three months.How many words do you need to be fluent in French? ›
However, it is estimated that a truly fluent French speaker knows around 3,000 words.Does DELF B2 expire? ›
DELF (Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française) and DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are official qualifications awarded by the French Ministry of Education to certify the competency of candidates from outside France in the French language. These certificates are valid for life.Is C1 native level? ›
The highest level on the CEFR scale is C1, which is close to the level of English proficiency of native speakers.How do I know if I'm fluent in a language? ›
- People don't modify their language for you anymore. ...
- You can eavesdrop on conversations. ...
- A world of humor has opened up. ...
- You sometimes read or listen without “registering” the language. ...
- Going to the bank (or doctor, accountant, etc) no longer fills you with fear.
C2 Proficiency, formerly known as Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE), is one of our Cambridge English Qualifications. It is our highest-level qualification – proof that you are a highly competent speaker of English. A C2 Proficiency qualification shows the world that you have mastered English to an exceptional level.Can Duolingo get me to B1? ›
By reaching the end of Unit 5, Duolingo learners have completed all the lessons in the beginner sections of our courses, called A1 and A2, and are starting intermediate B1 material.
To get from A1 to A2, it typically requires 100-150 hours of guided learning, but it can take 180-260 hours to get from B1 to B2.How many years of a language is considered fluent? ›
Some gaps in vocabulary remain, as well as in expressions and idioms. You'll often still rely on translation of and strategies from your native language for writing, but writing is improved. This will last from about year three to year five. You can comfortably say that you speak a language fluently!Is it possible to learn French in 1 year? ›
Regardless of your definition of fluency, you'll need to practice the language if you want to master it. If you want a short answer, yes, you can become fluent in French in one year (or even less), especially if you follow the 10 steps included in the next section.Can Rosetta Stone get you to B2? ›
Rosetta Stone opens the door to B2-level proficiency for learners, enabling them to further their study and advance through the B2 level and into the C levels of the CEFR.Can you reach B2 in 3 months? ›
B2 also takes around 3 months if you spend around 8 hours a week. P.S.: There are some people who are good at learning languages and remembering stuff who finished it all in 3-4 months. It all depends on how easy this comes to you and how much time you're spending on it.How do I pass the b1 French exam? ›
Just like every DELF exam, there are 4 parts:
- Oral comprehension (Listening)
- Reading comprehension (Reading)
- Written production (Writing)
- Oral production (Speaking)
What Level can Your French Achieve with Duolingo? By learning French with Duolingo, you might expect to reach an A1 or A2 CEFR level (Common European Framework Reference), which is a beginner or elementary level.Is one year enough to learn French? ›
Regardless of your definition of fluency, you'll need to practice the language if you want to master it. If you want a short answer, yes, you can become fluent in French in one year (or even less), especially if you follow the 10 steps included in the next section.Is it possible to learn French in 3 months? ›
While you certainly won't master it in three months, especially if you can only put a few hours a week into it, you can make sure to be more efficient by following an initial plan of action. Let's take a look at what you should do in the first hour, first day, first week and first month of learning French.How hard is it to learn French fluently? ›
The FSI scale ranks French as a “category I language”, considered “more similar to English” compared to categories III and IV “hard” or “super-hard languages”. According to the FSI, French is one of the easiest languages to learn for a native English speaker.
Reaching B2 is generally considered by most people as having basic fluency. You'll have a working vocabulary of around 4000 words. It's not always effortless and it's not always perfect, but neither you nor your native speaking partners are having a really hard time in most circumstances at this point.What is the best age to learn French? ›
To become completely fluent, however, learning should start before the age of 10. There are three main ideas as to why language-learning ability declines at 18: social changes, interference from one's primary language and continuing brain development.How much French can I learn in 6 months? ›
If you know the 1,000 most frequent words in a language, you can understand 80% of that language! That's more than enough to be conversational in French. And you can learn 1,000 French words in a six-month period by learning just six words a day.What is the hardest part of learning French? ›
Without a doubt, the hardest part of learning French is the pronunciation. Written French and spoken French seem worlds apart at first, since there are a number of rules that dictate when certain letters are not pronounced, or words are suddenly squashed together.Is French harder than Spanish? ›
Learning Spanish or French
All in all, neither language is definitively more or less difficult than the other. Spanish is arguably somewhat easier for the first year or so of learning, in large part because beginners may struggle less with pronunciation than their French-studying colleagues.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of why neither French or Spanish is easier to learn. The fact of the matter is that they share many similarities, and are equally different from English, so you can learn either one as a second language with relatively the same difficulty.Can I reach B2 French in 1 year? ›
From A0 to B2 in a year
A bit over a year ago, I was a completely monolingual English speaker with zero experience with the French language. Twelve months later, I very comfortably passed the internationally recognized DELF B2 exam.
At Duolingo, we're developing our courses to get you to a level called B2, at which you can get a job in the language you're studying. Reaching that kind of proficiency requires dedication, varied practice opportunities, and a lot of time.